Reduced joint counts in controlled clinical trials in rheumatoid arthritis

Arthritis Rheum. 1994 Apr;37(4):470-5. doi: 10.1002/art.1780370406.


Objective: To determine if quantitative assessment of a reduced number of joints provides information equivalent to that obtained by the traditional 60-joint evaluation in detecting changes in patients participating in clinical trials of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Methods: The changes in quantitative joint scores of patients from 3 previously reported clinical trials were compiled and compared with changes in quantitative scores derived using a reduced number of joints. Effect sizes were calculated (mean change in joint score/standard deviation of joint score) and compared for the different joint indices.

Results: The effect sizes of the joint scores derived using a reduced number of joints were similar to those of the original 60-joint score. The reduced joint count scores revealed significant changes for clinical trials involving as few as 15 patients.

Conclusion: Reduced joint count scores may be used to evaluate the results of clinical trials without decreasing the ability to detect change over time. Quantitative assessment of a reduced number of joints may also facilitate assessment of responses to treatment in the routine care of patients with RA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / pathology*
  • Gold Sodium Thiomalate / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Joints / pathology*
  • Methotrexate / therapeutic use
  • Penicillamine / therapeutic use
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Severity of Illness Index*


  • Gold Sodium Thiomalate
  • Penicillamine
  • Methotrexate